Imagine: After years of hearing loss you just picked up a pair of the best hearing aids you can get. Everything just instantly sounds so much better and you can actually hear some sounds for the first time. And why shouldn’t this happen? You’ve just gone from hearing loss to hearing.
But with time, maybe a few months or maybe a few years, you start to notice some things sound wrong. You can’t hear the TV as well, or trying to have a conversation with someone in another room isn’t possible.
Your hearing just seems worse.
So you go to your hearing aid center and have your acoustician make some adjustments. Maybe you pick up a newer, better, more powerful pair of hearing aids. These quick fixes might work for a while, but you always find yourself at the point of feeling like you’re hearing worse than you used to. You might start to blame your hearing aids, or even your family, and then search for the next latest and greatest technology to bring back the hearing quality that you remember.
Does this sound familiar? If it does, hear this: it’s not necessarily your fault. Nor is it the fault of your hearing aids. And there are ways to fix it.
Poor Hearing Isn’t Your Fault
Everyone’s hearing changes over time. How you hear now might not be how you heard 7 years ago; it might not be how you will hear in 7 years from now. That’s because to hear you rely on tiny hair cells in your inner ear. Like the rest of your body, these hair cells can change with age and they almost always change for the worse.
Some people might say “Well, I can see with 20/20 vision with my glasses, why can’t I hear at 100% with my hearing aids?” Unfortunately hearing is not like vision. When those hair cells are gone, they’re gone. No hearing aid can replace a missing hair cell; it won’t give you back the perfect hearing you might remember.
What You Can Do
If you’re reached a point where you feel like you won’t ever get a pair of hearing aids that work, don’t quit. Don’t ever give up on your hearing. There are a few ways that you can work for the best hearing possible.
The first is to check out technologies that work with your hearing aid. This way you can get the most out of the hearing aid you currently have. Wireless assistive listening devices are technologies that connect directly to your phone, television, computer, or other audio source; they can help you to hear better by sending the sounds directly to your hearing aid. It’s like turning off all the other noises around the TV and hearing only the TV. If your hearing aid doesn’t have wireless connectivity options, you might want to look for one that does.
Then give it a few months. Keep a journal of things like how you hear in different situations, where you have difficulties hearing, and what others say about your hearing. Go back and read this every now and then to keep yourself aware of how, or if, your hearing is changing.
Considering Hearing Implants
And if your hearing gets really bad, it might be time to learn about other options: hearing implants. There are a few different types of hearing implants and each one is specialized to treat a different type of hearing loss—because of this you’ll want to make sure to talk with your doctor about your specific hearing loss to find the right solution for you.
For now here’s a quick briefer on some of the different types of hearing implants that might be able to help you hear better:
If your hair cells are damaged, buying a more powerful hearing aid isn’t likely to help because it can’t fix the damaged hair cells. In this case, you might want to consider a cochlear implant. What a cochlear implant does is use electrical pulses stimulate the cochlea directly, therefore bypassing the damaged hair cells.
If your cochlea still has hair cells, but the bones in your ear are hardening or malformed, or you have frequent ear infections, a middle ear implant or bone conduction implant might be for you. A middle ear implant sends amplified sound waves to your cochlea while bypassing the middle ear. A bone conduction implant sends amplified sound waves to your cochlea through the bones of your skull.
Soon we’ll put out another article that gets more into these specifics of when hearing aid users should consider a hearing implant. So, stick around! In the mean time we’ll keep posting lots of information about hearing, hearing loss, and hearing implants.
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